News Briefs: Visit the Aurora Campus Sustainability Fair April 15

Published April 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 4

The Denver VOICE will be participating in the Aurora Campus Sustainability Fair, which will be held April 15, from 10:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. Come out to see “Homelessman” cartoonist Bill Policy drawing live caricatures, along with our vendors who will be selling original artwork and the April issue of the VOICE. There will be live entertainment from campus bands and artwork by students, along with organizations that will be talking about the benefits of sustainable living.  It will also include green jobs, an electric car and a raffle. Best of all, the entrance is free! Come join local students and the Denver VOICE at the Sustainability Fair on April 15. 

News Briefs: Colorado Springs enforces no-camping ordinance

Published April 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 4

Colorado Springs Police began enforcing a new, citywide no-camp ordinance on March 11.

The Homeless Outreach Team from the police department is reportedly moving slowly through various areas starting with a camp north of Cimarron Street and west of Interstate 25.

No arrests were made on day one according to The Gazette in Colorado Springs. Police issued several warnings and recommended various shelters in the area such as the Springs Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army.

Police are notifying the campers who they issue warnings to that if they are still there in 48 hours they will receive a ticket. On the third day, they will be arrested.

Council members passed the city’s no-camp ordinance 8-1, on Feb. 9.

-- Kimberly Gunning

News Briefs: CSU students participate in Alternative Break program

Published April 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 4

Students from Colorado State University in Fort Collins participated in the university’s Alternative Break program in various locations around the country during spring break last month.

More than 150 students participated in the 13 volunteer service projects that they helped create.

Volunteer vacations are growing in popularity in many parts of the world. Especially now in the U.S., when many travelers don’t have the funds to travel luxuriously, people are turning to volunteer vacations as a less expensive way to see the world.

Although most people associate volunteer vacations with opportunities over seas, usually in a third-world country, there are many prospects right in our own backyard.

This year’s projects included: rebuilding homes in the St. Bernard Parish of New Orleans with the United Way; Give Kids the World in Kissimmee, Fla., an organization helping to make the wishes come true for children with life-threatening illnesses; working emergency water stations with Humane Borders at the Arizona-Mexico border; and volunteering at one of the nation’s largest homeless shelters with Community for Creative Non-Violence in Washington, D.C.

More than 55 million Americans have participated in a volunteer based vacation as of 2009, according to the Travel Associations of America.

-- Kimberly Gunning

News Briefs: Colorado Public Schools $18 billion renovation needs

Published April 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 4

Colorado Public Schools need close to $18 billion in renovations, maintenance repairs and energy upgrades according to statewide study released in March.

The Public School Capital Construction Assistance Board conducted a facility test of all 8,419 Colorado kindergarten though 12th-grade buildings.

Evaluators concluded that the buildings are in need of $9.4 billion for deferred maintenance work by 2013. Additionally, $13.9 billion is needed to renovate classrooms in order to meet 21st-century codes and for energy projects and repairs. The remaining $3.9 billion is estimated for further repairs between 2014 and 2018.

This was the first statewide evaluation of school building conditions, according to Capital Construction Assistance Division Director Ted Hughes.

The multi-billion-dollar evaluation coincides with the 8.7 percent budget cuts  to Colorado public schools. 

2008 Building Excellent Schools Today, a program that school districts have the option to apply to, required the study.

BEST assists districts in setting priorities and encouraging the use of local, matching grants for these projects. Top priorities include health and safety issues followed by overcrowding relief and technology projects.

Two Alamosa elementary schools, a high school in Sargent and schools in the Sangre de Cristo district received $87 million for projects last August. 

The next phase is expected to amount to $147 million for school construction needs.

-- Kimberly Gunning

News Briefs: Census workers reach out to Denver’s fringe communities

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

The U.S. Census Bureau is making efforts to reach out to the Denver Metro Area’s immigrant and homeless populations, hoping to encourage these groups to participate in the 2010 census, which will begin in March. Since census numbers determine everything from funding for schools and social programs to how many seats each state will get in the House of Representatives, it is important to include new immigrants and other groups traditionally wary of government in the census count.

The Census Bureau is using many avenues to dispel any fear people might have of working with them. Some Spanish-speaking radio stations, for example, will begin airing folk songs about the census. Telemundo has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to add a Census Bureau recruiter character to Mas Sabe El Diablo (The Devil Knows Best), one of the station’s most popular soap operas. The Census Bureau is also looking for interpreters that speak the languages of Bhutan, Burma and Somalia to help immigrants fill out census forms.

Census workers are also hoping to reach more of Denver’s homeless population this year. Officials began working a year ago with various homeless outreach programs to identify street hangouts. The workers will also be canvassing hotels and motels in an effort to connect with as many homeless citizens as they can.

-- Sarah Harvey

News Briefs: Use of capital punishment on the decline

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

Fewer death sentences were issued in 2009 than any year since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, according to a year-end report released by the Death Penalty Information Center, a non-profit, nonpolitical group that provides facts and analysis, as well as opposition to the practice of capital punishment.

The number of death sentences in the U.S. has been on the decline for the past seven years. Eleven states, including Colorado, considered abolishing the death penalty in 2009. With many states facing severe budget issues, the cost of capital punishment has become increasingly important. Even Texas, which traditionally tops state lists for both number of executions and number of death sentences issued, has seen a decrease in the use of the death penalty over the past decade.

Since 1973, over 100 people facing death sentences have been exonerated.

-- Sarah Harvey

News Briefs: Housing development creates homes, jobs for homeless

Published January 2010 Vol. 14 Issue 1

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Renaissance Housing Development Corporation is constructing a new, mixed income housing development at the northwest corner of Colfax and Pearl. The building, called the Renaissance Uptown Lofts, will provide at least 16 units for chronically homeless individuals, as well as affordable rent apartments for people at or below certain percentages of area median income.

The Renaissance Uptown Lofts will be the first construction built by the newly formed Renaissance Works Job Program, which will employ homeless individuals to work as construction laborers. The number of people employed at this development and the types of jobs available were unknown as of press time.

In addition, the Renaissance Uptown Lofts will be compliant with Green Communities’ guidelines. They will feature photovoltaic solar panels, Energy Star rated appliances, enhanced insulation and healthy interior materials.

-- Sarah Harvey

News Briefs: Growing hungry

Published December 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 11

Fifty million people struggled for food in 2008, or one out of every six people according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This included 16.7 million children. Among household types, several stood out at rates above the national average of 14.6 percent. Families living below the poverty line had a 42 percent rate of food insecurity; single mother households had 37.2 percent; and Hispanic households and Black households had just over a 25 percent rate of food insecurity. Food security has only been tracked since 1995, when rates were around 10.3 percent and had a slow rise to 11.1 percent by 2007. They have spiked in the last year.  As households struggle with the effects of the recession, those who experience hunger are expected to continue to rise. Colorado’s rate was 11.6 percent. The state with the lowest rate was South Dakota at 6.9 percent and the highest was Mississippi at 17.4 percent. 

News Briefs: Child poverty on the rise at an alarming rate

Published December 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 11

The rate of children living in poverty in Colorado is on the rise. According to a recent report from the Colorado Children’s Campaign, in 2000 there were an estimated 104,214 children living in poverty and by 2007 the number had increased by 84 percent to 191,725.  A large portion of these children are concentrated in the Front Range with more than 37,000 in Denver County and more than 25,500 in Adams County and  25,500 in Arapahoe County. The fastest growth in child poverty is in the Denver metro area while rural counties endure high rates of persistent poverty.

News Briefs: Homelessness on the rise

Published October 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 9

The city and county of Denver saw an increase of over 2,700 people experiencing homelessness, bringing the homeless population to a total of 6,656.  While the report was just released from the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative the survey was conducted in January. With many service providers reporting a higher volume of people requiring services since then, it is likely that these numbers are low.

The proportion of people who are newly homeless in Metro Denver is 44.7 percent up from 32.6 percent two years ago. In 5 of the 7 counties in the metro area the number of homeless went down slightly or had virtually no change. Denver and Jefferson Counties had the increases.

There were many areas in the report that made it hard to compare the data. The 2007 point in time survey appears to be generous in its count and reasonably estimates people they were unable to count, while in 2009 they only counted persons who requested services on that day or that were reached by outreach workers.

 

TOP 10 REASONS FOR BEING HOMELESS

1.     Lost Job
2.     Rent or Mortgage
3.     Alcohol/Substance Abuse
4.     Family Problems
5.     Mental Illness
6.     Asked to leave
7.     Illness
8.     Domestic Violence
9.     Discharged from Jail
10.     Legal
•Six individuals stated bedbugs as the cause of their homelessness

 

SOURCE: 2007 & 2009 MDHI PIT surveys

News Briefs: The State of Human Rights

Published April 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 3

In February 2009, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, part of the U.S. Department of State, submitted its annual Human Rights Report to Congress.

Some of the strongest statements in the report were directed at leaders in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

The Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe “unleashed a campaign of terror that resulted in the killing, disappearance and torture of hundreds of opposition party members and supporters following the March [2008] elections that were not free and fair.”

 

Human rights abuses often emerged in the form of media censorship and persecution of journalists.

 

Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the report, resulted in as many as 45,000 Congolese deaths each month last year and a total of over one million “internally displaced persons.”
In the Western hemisphere, the Colombian government “continued its efforts to improve human rights.” While killings decreased by 6 percent and kidnappings by 14 percent in 2008, collaboration between armed groups and insubordinate military persists—as does armed conflict with terrorist organizations.

Human rights abuses often emerged in the form of media censorship and persecution of journalists. In Egypt, police detained and allegedly tortured bloggers. The Afghan government convicted a student journalist of blasphemy for distributing an article he downloaded on women’s rights in Islam. His death sentence was reduced to 20 years in prison by an appeals court.

The 2008 report will be used as a resource for shaping U.S. policy, conducting diplomacy and allocating U.S. aid resources. The report offers a country-by-country breakdown of the state of human rights across the globe, drawing attention to positive as well as negative developments.

The full report is available for viewing online at
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/index.htm